About the programme

Our people are the ones who win hearts and minds on the shop floor. They’re the unseen heroes who get our stock in front of our customers. The strategic thinkers who steer our course for success.

By attracting, nurturing and rewarding talented people who live our values, enhance our customers’ lives and thrive in a high-performance culture, outstanding Human Resource management is at the heart of M&S and vital to our business success. Because it’s not just about finding new bright sparks, it’s about making sure those sparks remain with us and continue to give their best each and every day.

Right from the start of the programme, you’ll immerse yourself in a wide range of HR activities. You’ll spend time in a store, working in either Clothing & Home or Food alongside a regional HR Business Partner to understand both the people element and commercial side of our business. This could mean getting involved in peak-season recruitment activities or upskilling sessions.

You’ll then rotate around our HR Centres of Excellence, such as Reward, Recruitment or Employee Engagement, and various Head Office teams. As well as learning on the job, you’ll build your skills through workshops and coaching. At Head Office, you’ll also work on a live project related to one aspect of HR.

Whether you’re reviewing HR policies or arranging a coaching session, you’ll be helping M&S move forward. All in all, it’s a fascinating introduction to HR in a fast-paced retail business. You’ll see at first-hand how our people policies are helping to drive business results, ensure we have people with the skills and talent we need to deliver our strategy, and make us an agile and efficient organisation that’s fit for the future.

It will be a steep learning curve, but there will be plenty of support from your colleagues, line manager and buddy to make sure you stay on track. And if you do well and show us what you can do, a permanent role awaits which could see the start of your progression as either an HR generalist or specialist.

We’re an amazing mix of cultures and personalities. So you’ll need to be someone who can build a rapport with everyone from Customer Assistants to HR Directors, move with agility from one priority to another, show creativity within a set framework and have good problem-solving skills. Any HR experience and a relevant degree would give you a headstart.

Applications for this programme have now closed

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Key Information

Human Resources - Graduate Programme


In-store (Nationwide) and Head Office (Manchester or Central London)


12-18 months' training


£24,000 plus location allowance where applicable

Career questions?

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07834 335603

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Applications for our business placement and graduate programmes are now closed. 


Applications will reopen in September 2017 for our 2018 intake. 

Applying to join M&S

  • Online application

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    Stage one: online application and testing

    You'll need to apply online - where you'll take some online screening tests, after which there follows a short period of suspense. This is where your application rises to the top of our review pile. As soon as we can, we'll be in touch to let you know whether you've successfully made it through to the next stage of your journey.

    Be sure to check each programme page for specific closing dates as they may vary. If you miss the deadline, you’ll have to wait another year before you can apply again.

    Here are a few tips. On your application form, be sure you include all your work experience and clearly state how it relates to the role you are applying for – or what skills you learned in that job which you can bring to our programme. In the online testing, everyone completes a personality questionnaire and takes a situational judgement test. Then you’ll be challenged to show your verbal, numerical or inductive skills, depending on the scheme you’re applying for. It’s a good idea to practise online tests before attempting the real ones – you can easily find some online. Make sure you take the tests in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.

  • Come to an assessment centre

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    Stage two: come to an assessment centre

    If we like what we see online, we'll ask to see you in person. You'll then be invited to a day of group exercises, presentations and an interview. Not easy, but not as scary as it sounds. In Retail, assessment centres will take place in January, February or March 2017, although some Head Office schemes will hold theirs in December 2016. There are plenty of tips on other pages to help you perform at your best.

  • Receive an offer

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    Stage three: receive an offer

    If all goes well and there's a place for you on one of our schemes, we'll let you know by the end of March. All in all, it's a simple process: just hold on to those 'if only' thoughts and do your best to impress at every stage. M&S has roles waiting for you. Yes, you could make it happen.

  • Start with us

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    Stage four: start with us

    This is the moment you've been waiting for. Your first day! Head Office Business Placements start in July but Retail Management and HR begin in September. For Graduates, all Head Office roles start in September with Retail Management having various intake dates across July and September.

    Applications for our business placement and graduate programmes for 2017 are now open.

Learning and Development

Experience is the best teacher, which is why M&S likes to throw you in at the deep end. Real responsibilities on real projects, from day one (no, really). But the learnings aren't just one way: we're eager to hear your fresh ideas, to have our ways challenged, in order to grow the business. Of course, it all starts with a comprehensive introduction to M&S. You're never on your own with us. During this time, you'll get a basic overview of our business, along with all the information you need about your new role and life with one of the nation's brightest brands.